Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inspiration and Intimidation

I have been in a funk.

It all started when we took the kids to go see Where the Wild Things Are two weeks ago. Lauren said the movie (the emotional undertones) depressed her. I left the theater feeling inspired. Visually the movie is stunning and the characters are well developed with excellent acting. Seeing a film like that makes me want to create, to be a better storyteller, to be a better writer. Then I became intimidated because I know that I will never be able to tell a story like that.

In the book and in the film there is the line “I’ll eat you up. I love you so.”

Did you ever see someone so cute you just want to squish and scrunch up their face and eat it? Like a toddlers plump round cheeks just need to be squeezed and pinched even though you know that in the back of your head you may be pinching the kid’s cheek just a bit too hard, but you don’t care, because oh my gosh, he is so cute you just want to eat him up and you can’t help yourself. Then you realize you may not be able to control yourself and you may actually eat the cuteness and so to be safe you stay away and try not to look.

I have been trying to figure out a way I can take this blog to the next level. What that level is I am not sure. Blogs have kind of gone out of fashion with most people finding their online voices through Facebook and Twitter. I do both, but they are not the same to me as writing or reading a blog post. I don’t find Twitter or FB inspiring. I am inspired by people whose blog writing, photography, style or just their outlook on life makes me want to do better as a person and as a writer. You can’t get that from 140 characters.

Lately I have been inspired by bloggers like The Bloggess, BHJ, Whit, and The Pioneer Woman. I have been reading each of these bloggers for a while now (Pioneer Woman for a few years) and I have come to the conclusions that these people are just flat out excellent at the craft of blogging. I do follow them on Twitter but it is their blog posts inspire me to be a better writer, a better storyteller.

When I compare what I write here to what they write at their spaces I get intimidated. Sometimes I look at what I consider their success and I feel that maybe I should give up on the whole blogging thing.

Inspiration; I want to tell stories like they do.

Intimidation; I know that I could never tell stories like that.

Inspiration and Intimidation.

I want to eat them up but then I find it better to take a break and stay away. Stay away from reading and stay away from writing.

I try not to look.

I am inspired. I am intimidated. Mostly inspired.

31 comments:

eclectic said...

Cheek pinching, face biting... what, are you a vampire great-aunt for Halloween this year?

Susie said...

My friend, Katy, is a bluegrass singer, among other things. And she has achieved as much success as she wants, in that area. Some successful CDs, some concert tours. She's very good. Once, at a concert we were able to attend, she gave me a shout out, and told the crowd that she credits me with helping her find her voice. When we were in 9th grade, she sang for me and then asked me, hopefully, if I thought she sounded like Joan Baez. I told her that she did not. That she sounded like Katy. Not what she wanted to hear at the time. And frankly, I didn't even remember this incident. But she says that moment helped her see the futility in trying to sing with a voice other than her own. Joan Baez could never sound like Katy.

Please keep writing. Honest-to-God truth: I've read most, though not all, of those people you're recommending. If they were all (and some of them are) on my bloglines list, and I saw that each of them and you had updated, I would go read Bill first. Every time. Different voices speak to different people. I am not the only one who takes particular joy in the sound of your storytelling voice. You're the only one who has it.

End of sermonette.

Kathy said...

Delurking here once again. You are on my must read list when I am online. Don't change your style. Keep being you! Of course you can't be Pioneer Woman, but you did look like you may have been headed that way back in Kindergarten....

Circus Kelli said...

I really really really try not to compare myself to other people. Be inspired by other people, but don't let you intimidate yourself, ever.

SciFi Dad said...

Ironically, when I was first blogging you were one of the people who both inspired and intimidated me. You still inspire me, but I no longer feel intimidated by other bloggers.

I came to the conclusion that rather than trying to be something (or someone) I am not, I would just be me, and write like me, and let the chips fall where they may.

That is not to say that I don't want my blog to grow, to achieve the next level as you call it. I do, and sometimes I struggle with identifying just what growth I want to see. I think a big part of the blogging experience is the evolution - not just of the blogger themselves, but the voice, the style, the narrative.

I hope you are just thinking out loud, and that you are not seriously considering an extended (or worse yet, permanent) hiatus.

zoot said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel. But I do it with everything, not just blogging. I look at Moms who parent better than I do, wives who treat their hubbys better, better photographers, better artists. And I think there is NOTHING wrong with letting them inspire us to be better. But don't let them keep you from trying at all...you're too good at what you do!

Effie said...

Did you ever see the movie (or read the books for that matter) Anne of Green Gables? Anne tries and tries to write a book and she gets Gilbert to read it, and he says that it's no good--just high-falutin' nonsense--"Just write what you know, Carrots" and when she does, she gets published.

The same thing happens in Little Women--Jo tries and tries to get published and when she shows it to her Professor Baer--he tells her to write from the heart and when she finally does what he suggests, she gets published--and then they get married--so romantic, not the point, my point is you should watch chick flicks more often--then you would know that you just have to be yourself, which is what you've been all along and you'll be successful. We all love your blog and visit nearly religiously--just keep doing what you do.

End of mini-rant.

Now I want to watch Little Women...

Jennifer U said...

Must read list every time! Don't give up, Bill. You have a wonderful way of telling a story and you always surprise me. Different bloggers appeal to us for different reasons. If you posted daily, I'd be here every day.

Your voice is you. That's why I read this blog.

James (SeattleDad) said...

I'm with Scifi. Yours was one of the first daddy blogs I read on a consisent basis and I have taken inspiration from your humor and style.

I sometimes tell myself that if I could only spend more time, I would write the next great american post. Then I realize I'll never acheive that kind of voice, but am happy with what I put out there. Most of the time anyway.

House of Pugs said...

Bill-rarely rarely comment but I had to delurk to beg, yes, beg you not to stop blogging. I am not a parent but I eagerly look forward to your posts. Your humor and outlook on family life is smart and sharp and makes me laugh. Don't be intimidated by other bloggers, everyone has their own individual voice....and I would miss yours horribly.

sheri said...

You are bookmarked on my favorites. I love to read your blog. I think it's been said several times by others, but write without trying. A little break now and then is not a bad thing. But I hope that you don't give up the blog. You are both intriguing, inspiring and usually just damn funny!

Anonymous said...

I think Sermonette is hot !

Anonymous said...

If you do not blog, I feel you will go back to self pleasure. That is just being selfish !

Anonymous said...

I graduated with a Don Funk. Are you related?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is constipation. What color is your poop?

N said...

Please don't stop or change too much. You have a way with words and a story. Pleeeeease.

Stacey said...

I follow you. I "found" you from a friend and I have "passed" you to my mom and several other friends. We all agree on the following: You have GOT to put your blogs together and submit them as a collection of short stories.

I have a friend who is a blogger and reminds me of you. She has no real formal writing training, no background in editing. Last year she started feeling uninspired in her job and in her life. She wasn't doing what she felt she should be DOING. She is an excellent blogger. A lover of anything with pages. And she decided, what the hell. The wrote a letter to a large Dallas-based publishing house. She conceded that on paper - she had nothing to offer the publishing field. But she poured her soul out, and she told them what she could offer OFF of the paper. She told them of her love of writing, her love of reading. She told them of her desire to do anything in that field, just a shot to try. It ended up being quite a long letter, and she stamped it and mailed it before she could change her mind. Know what happened? The head of the company called her back. Called her back!! And set up an interview. And told her that she agreed, she had nothing to offer a publishing house...with the exception that she writes a beautiful letter. And she was hired. She. Was. Hired. She's working for the head of marketing/PR, her duties include obtaining new manuscripts, light pre-editing, designing ads, blogging for the company, Twittering for the company. She almost didn't send that letter because she was intimidated. Don't ever feel intimidated because believe it or not...YOU intimidate people, too. I blog, and I have wished the same...man, I wish I could blog like Poop.

Anonymous said...

They say "change is good". But for who? Super markets are always changing their aisles, packaging changes on most products, just when you get to know the pastor of your church, he's re-assigned. Your favorite ice cream gets discontinued, your best neighbor moves. We are uncomfortable with change. Stay put. Be yourself. Don't try to be someone else. Make us happy, not uncomfortable! I'm still having trouble with the soup bowl!

MrsDoF said...

Don't Leave Us!
I'm already missing some of the blogs of my beginning reads (from the summer I was let go from a job I loved and blogging save my sanity) such as Truths and Half Truths, and Vitamin Sea.
Susie know them, she and Dooce are how I met them and you.

I suppose I could follow them on Twitter (as their sidebars suggest) but just not the same.

On Facebook I have about 30 Friends, but the stories are not there... details-yes, humor-sometimes, those doggone game requests, but thought-provoking good reading, Not.

You are You, which is why I stop in. Plus, those adorable other people in your family you write about.

Moonlight Dancer said...

I have that reaction to little kids a lot but you know I don't eat their little faces for fear that the town folk will hunt me down with pitchforks and torches.

I don't get the whole twitter thing. Maybe I'm too old, but I can't imagine just reading and interacting with status updates. Does nothing for me. I do love to read blogs however.

for a different kind of girl said...

I think any of us who have been writing in this format for awhile find ourselves in this very space you presently find yourself. I often feel blank, or filled with words bouncing around my head unable to release. I know sometimes there's also the sense that we give up writing to please ourself and worry about being 'not good enough' for others.

When people have called me a writer, I've brushed it off. No! I am not a writer! Impossible! There are far too many REAL writers whose work I am awed by, how it seems effortless and inspiring and beautiful all at once. I've not done that! But then I think we also also label ourselves when we shouldn't, and it's easy to get caught up in the power of what those labels mean. We should just purge and grow.

Angie said...

I am delurking to tell you this - you are one of only three blogs that I read (due to the whole full time job thing,) and hands down my fav. Why? Well, some friends of mine once said that being around my house would be fun if they could sit out in the yard in lawn chairs and watch what goes on for their entertainment. That's how I feel about you - I'm on the outside looking in at the wonderful glimpses that you allow us of real life. It's entertainment to me because it's just so real, and so easy to relate. Thanks for sharing, and please keep it up.

Bogart in P Towne said...

No jokes today...your blog is the only one that I have consistantly read since I started playing in this online world 2 years ago. I have Whit bookmarked, but only check him occasionally. There are others that I read from time to time, but your writting and posts have brought me a lot of joy over the past two years.

Thank you and don't underestimate your ability to enterain and inspire here at P&B...

-Bogart.

Karen R said...

I read theirs and I like yours better - much better.

Blake said...

Your writing is fantastic - don't stop. Perhaps it is helpful to remember that great artists are never satisfied with their success.

I would love to see what kind of kids' tale you could spin together on the StoryJumper platform. Might not be Maurice Sendak at first, but given time... who knows?

gigglepotamus said...

You are my inspiration.




Well, you and Tim Gunn...

Jean said...

Completely random...but another phrase along the lines of wanting to "eat someone up" because they are so cute came from a girl I knew in college. She had a term - "shrinkability" - she would tell you were shrinkable b/c you were so cute that she wanted to shrink you, put you in her pocket, and feed you M&Ms all day. A little creepy stated here, but really funny if you met this gal.

I really liked your thoughts on intimidation vs inspiration. Sometimes I feel intimidation keeps me on my toes of always trying my best to achieve this "next level". Though, you can get very frustrated b/c you never truly feel you have reached this level you base on others accomplishments. But, realize in the process...you have inspired lots of people behind you who may be using you as their benchmark.

flatmargo said...

You are literally the ONLY blog I read. Please, please don't go!

Melinda said...

I would like to think that my opinion means just a little bit to you... but perhaps not.
Your blog is perfect in my eyes. I am sure things will evolve as the boys get older and you will eventually find your blog writing will be from different perspective because of this.
I can hardly wait for your blog posts when the boys are teenagers. You have many challenges awaiting you and Lauren!
I particularly love how you write about all your family. I haven't thought of you as just a Daddy Blogger but more of a Bloke that Blogs about stuff and life.
I think you have a unique voice in your writing that is most enviable.
I am not sure exactly what it is but you do have blog X-factor.
I love your sense of the ridiculous and originality and you always make me laugh.
That is always a good thing!
Stop analyzing your naval fluff and just write like you do; from the heart.

geeksinrome said...

Don't be intimidated. You have a unique voice and one-of-a-kind stories to tell that can't be compared to the greats who inspire you.

In light of what you say about Twitter and FB, this was a really good article that touches on some of what you're saying. And it has a positive prognosis for the art of storytelling!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/28/AR2009102804896.html

Papa K said...

Hey man... I too am trying to launch my blog into the stratosphere and where you are at currently is where aspire to be some day. What you have going on here is great! I love it... and I'm glad I found you. I can learn from bloggers like you. I'm putting you in my favorites.